Josh Hamilton - Hope for the Future


You can find the first two articles in this series -- "Pivot Point" and "Syndromes" -- in the left sidebar.  Thanks!, Jeff


Q.  What is your guess as to the future for the Rangers?

A.  Honestly would be very concerned about their clubhouse.  The combination of Texas Rangers + Josh Hamilton, going forward, would be a big question in my mind.  Often it's much easier to get a fresh start, new city, new people, and lose the baggage after something like this. 

Would want a professional's opinion as to how supportive the Rangers would be about this, and there are three possibilities:

  • The Rangers are VERY loving and forgiving
  • They're okay with it, not too ticked off about it
  • They resent it

Two of those are bad, and won't work.  One of those will work.


Q.  How about from the point of view of the other 24 players?

A.  Not every sports team has a "We're all in this together" mentality.  But some do win because they're unusually joyful and together.

The 1995 Mariners?  It's not like Edgar went out there and helped Joey Cora hit, but still, they got on that charge to the wire and they were in the zone, playing at another level.  Luis Sojo smacked that double down the line on a tough pitch because his concentration was way up there and he's thinking, do something, anything, to get this job done.

The 2010-11 Rangers had two spiritual leaders, guys who served "maypoles" for the Rangers' very remarkable "the team comes first" mentality.  Those two players were, evidently, C.J. Wilson and Josh Hamilton.  Wilson's gone now, swapped out for a quasi-porn star type of personality, and Hamilton is now a negative factor, an unsettling factor.   What's next, Yoenis Cespedes?

If I'm Ryan, I'm attending to this issue of the 2012 ballclub's self-image.  Hopefully Ron Washington's extension will help with that.


Q.  What would be your recommendation for his staying clean and sober?  (Spoiler alert:  if you don't want to read a spiritual frame of reference here, skip to the next question.)

A.  Let's start by understanding that Hamilton's paradigm for recovery is repentance, as opposed to medical treatment for an illness that is presumed not to be his fault.  

We all believe that the world would be a better place if more people did it our way.  :- )   As it pertains to drug and alcohol rehab, I'm convinced that Hamilton's route gives the better chances.  That conviction is based on experience, not on my belief system.

I heard a police officer say -- it was just his opinion, but he'd dealt with some 4,000 opiate addicts -- that 96% of patients out of aversive therapy (electroshock, emetics) relapse, and the other 4% overdose and kill themselves.  He said, "Unfortunately, the only people who do get clean are those who ... what's the word those groups use ... repent."  He was hostile to spiritual frames of reference, but acknowledged their efficacy as he had seen them applied on the street.

Of course, there is a case to be made for Schick-Shadel.  There are good people who believe in secular, exclusively-medical treatments for drug and alcohol addition.  There's a rational case there, and I'll welcome anybody's effort to make that case.

I respect those who sincerely believe that it works better to treat substance abuse as a disease that is not the victim's fault.  But my own experiences are all I have to go off of...


Be that as it may, Hamilton's paradigm stands or falls with his making a decision about what is right, what is wrong, and his following through with that.

Is it wrong for Hamilton to have a couple of cocktails?  He needs to figure that out once and for all.  Will he make a clear decision, not for public consumption, but in his own mind?  That is the pivot point for his future, in my view.

Maybe Hamilton's opinion is, "there is nothing evil with my having 10 or fewer drinks per month, but it needs to stop there.  Baseball and my wife don't accept that, so I'll hide it."  That has apparently been his (subconscious) belief in the past.  The problem with this is that it will involve lying to his wife, which brings his personal morality crashing down in a pile of rubble.  

He'd be left with, "I personally do think it's fine for me to have a few cocktails, but baseball and my family won't let me."  In that event, he'll need to find some way to (subconsciously) come to grips with the bitterness from feeling that he's unfairly "dominated" by those around him.

He can do this -- probably has done this -- by (subconsciously) recognizing that he brought these unusual safeguards down on himself, reasonably so.  The fact is that he was a heroin user, and that brings consequences.  Whether he can accept these without bitterness is another question.  Evidently his family has been fighting a lot, so there are some latent resentments to address.

Hopefully, Hamilton's faith-based counselors will also let his wife (or other family member) know what to do to help with repentance, as opposed to rehabilitation.  Hint:  it's about helping Josh, not about setting demands and expectations regarding what Josh owes, what is 'fair' to the family.  Those are two different ballgames, with two different support systems, the repentance and rehab ballgames.  


Q.  He's got a lot of hope for the future?

A. Hey, he's been winning so far.

Maybe the Rangers can rise above this body blow to their community persona.  If not, a re-boot elsewhere may be necessary.

We might say, Hamilton hasn't been perfect, either, using the faith paradigm that he's used.  No, but rehab isn't about perfection.  It's about fighting the good fight -- the one against yourself, the one for freedom rather than slavery.  

Too many addicts give up and quit because of one setback.  You can't ask an addict to be perfect.  You can only ask him to keep at it.  Josh apologizes, he mans up, he goes without a drink today, he's doing what he has to do and he gets a handshake for it.  In the big picture, he has been winning ... so far.

Considering where he was when he was out of baseball, Josh Hamilton has accomplished a lot of things.  Let's hope he keeps at it.

My take,





[Spiritual Alert - skip if you can't stand this stuff - or not; it's up to you]
Nicely done Jeff.  I have Hamilton's autobiography on my shelf (yes I did read it).  Using the word "autobiography" on someone so young seems kind of ironic, considering his biography is by no means complete.  For his family's sake, I hope it is incomplete for many more years to come.
I've dealt with addiction in my family too.  As you know, I share your worldview, but also respect the secular attempts to deal with this type of issue.
Addiction is usually a private sin that becomes public at some point.  Although the "disease" aspect has some merit - especially dealing with how the psyche is involved, the decisions to go down that path in the first place are still ours to make.  With alcoholism on both sides of my family, decisions that I make to "have a few drinks" are my decisions alone.  They come with some cost.  But the same thing applies to decisions we make regarding anything else that would be considered sinful (i.e. our decision to explore a relationship with another woman while we are married, etc.).  When someone needs to recover from decisions like that, repentance is the best road.  The "fact" that more people who "repent" tend to stay clean makes sense, if there is a God to answer to.   Whether it's addiciton or adultery, owning your decisions go a long way toward healing broken things.  Strangely enough, even non-believers who "repent" (turn away from their bad choices) do better.  If there is a God, it would stand to reason that turning away from things that don't lift Him up would fit how the world really is.  If there is not, making the choice to repent still works.

jrdo410's picture

I've dealt with the personally, losing my younger brother to substance abuse. 
I have to take issue with this statement, which I think is about 50% wrong, 50% right:
I respect those who sincerely believe that it works better to treat substance abuse as a disease that is not the victim's fault. 

Substance abuse is undoubtedly a disease. However, that doesn't mean Hamilton doesn't have to take responsibility for it, own it. Ultimately it is his fault/responsibility. An addict looks at the situation like this - you have a pill in each hand. You know the pill in the right hand is a vitamin C, you won't get high, but you'll go on a lead a wonderful, normal life. The pill in the left hand is drugs, you know that it is going to destroy your life (usually they aren't even in denial about that!). Knowing it will destroy their life, they take the pill in the left hand.  There is no rational thinking going on in this scenario - so its difficult to try and analyze it with your framework.  There is no cost/benefit analysis going on in an addicts brain. 
I would paint a rosier picture of how this will play out in the clubhouse. Generally speaking, Hamilton did a great job staying sober for a long, time - which bodes well for getting past this.  The Rangers just came off a world series, have a tight clubhouse generally. I think they will fully support and help him, this time. Here's an analogy - if your friend is a kleptomaniac, you'll say they need help. If you friend steals from you, he is a thief! The Rangers won't let this slide, but they will give him a break, but next time he's looking at the door.


I'm right there with a 9 figure check and a hug to pick him up.  I think that's a great place to park our Ichiro money.
No one has been more open about their substance abuse problems and trying to find healthy solutions than Hamilton.  He's not in denial.  He's not blaming other people.
He's maintaining a support structure and doing most of the things you could ask of a guy with an issue.
I'd be happy to make him the vet centerpiece of our team next year and have him lead our rag-tag bunch of mega-talented fugitives back to the playoffs, thank ya kindly.
Good people are hard to find.  Hamilton has an acknowledged addiction problem that's he's been pro-active about for years.
Rather have that than a selfish teammate, or a spousal abuser, or any number of other potential problems.
Please, Texas, decide you can spend your money better elsewhere. Josh can play for me any day.


You could say, hey, we think so highly of the way you are approaching your problems, we'll marry you and sink or swim with you.
It's one thing to take on the problems of a Pac-Man Jones or a Ben Roethlisberger, out of purely bargain-hunting reasons ... another thing to take on a flawed human being that you respect, and if things go sideways, you don't feel so bad about it ...
A lot of us could do with a paycheck and a hug, too :- ) and many of us would be loyal employees for it...

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